What is the origin of Christmas lights?

Christmas lights

There is something rather mesmerizing about the twinkle that is embellished from outdoor Christmas lights. Not only do they have the power to create a warm, welcoming environment, but they also are a nice added touch around the holiday season. However, have you ever wondered where the tradition of decorating your home with bright, outdoor lighting came from? Well, let’s untangle the history.

Early history

Historically, Christmas lights have only been used since electricity became the everyday norm, but dating back as far as the 17th century, eastern European families, particularly German, possessed light displays outside their homes that consisted of burning candles. Their trees at Christmas time were also delicately decorated with small candles that were attached using pins or melted wax. Only lit for a few minutes per night, traditionally this was a Christian custom to signal to other Christians that they were welcome to come worship inside their home. A far different expression for the use of lights when compared to our extravagant, modern-day displays.

The rise of electric bulbs

Then Thomas Edison changed the world with his fantastic advancement in technology, the lightbulb. In 1880, Edison introduced the world to the lights displayed on the outside of his laboratory compound, marking the first outdoor display of Christmas lights. Edward Johnson, an inventor under the supervision of Edison, also created the first string of Christmas lights a couple of years later. It was made out of 80 small electric light bulbs and went on to be mass produced in 1890.

Public displays of lights in retail stores and on government buildings started to become popular in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. However, they weren’t very affordable until many years later. That being said, outdoor light displays are now a symbol of the holiday season.

Today’s Christmas lights

Many people, government buildings and municipalities now use incandescent Christmas lights, rather than candles, to offer a twinkling display around the holidays. Light-emitting diode, or LED, lights are more energy-efficient light options that help to reduce your carbon emission and electric bill. So, why not enjoy your festive Christmas lights and save a little money in the process.

Do you know any other interesting facts about the history of Christmas lights? Tell us in the comments section below.


Landscape Lighting and Holiday Decorating in the Spring

It may be early in the year but it’s never too early to think about decorating your landscape for the holidays, especially because of the sales. And, there is no better time to purchase your holiday decorations when the stores are selling them 50% off or more! So, consider planning your holiday décor now and you will be prepared and much richer come Christmas time.

You want to spice things up, maybe make your house the one on the block the kids both young and old would love to go see. So how do you accomplish this without being too “over-the-top” or over budget?

Choose a particular theme and design your lighting and décor around it.  Here are some ideas for themes:

  • Snowman
  • Candy Canes
  • Christmas Boxes
  • Santa & his Reindeer
  • Winter Wonderland
  • The Menorah

Whatever your delight, lighting will play an essential role in perfecting this holiday landscape. Start with an assortment of LED lights. These gems come in a wide variety of colors, fitting just about any theme, and the best part is that they are weather resistant. These lights are usually brighter, last longer and come in traditional shapes, even in the firefly type lights. Either way, LED Lighting is very versatile and cost effective.

If you are re-using your LED Lighting from last year, conduct a “light test” before you hang them.  The primary purpose for this test is your safety. You want to make sure the lighting is still operational. Second, a test will help you catch any burnt out lights you can replace before hanging.

Once you’ve selected your theme, choose the color lights that best fit that theme. For example, if you selected a “Winter Wonderland”, ICICLE LIGHTS hung around the house are a beautiful way to create that cold winter day feeling, while economically giving a subtle display of dancing ice.

If you want to “ramp up” your “Winter Wonderland” theme, icy blue colored lighting strung around a few of the bushes and trees will give a lovely sparkle to the overall ambiance.

And don’t forget about the windows. Hang little firefly lights around either the inside or outside of a window, and apply a touch of frost around the edges of the inside to give them a beautiful, snowy effect. Even if you live in a warm climate, this type of lighting will give your home a winter feel.

Once your lighting is set, place “Winter Wonderland” items strategically throughout the yard; i.e., styrofoam-shaped snowballs, sleds, fake snow on the grass, etc…

It’s a magical time of year and a wonderful opportunity to let your imagination fly by creating your landscape filled with holiday cheer. Just remember that a few lights go a long way. Don’t be afraid to brighten up your landscape. You only get one chance a year…so make it a memorable one—even if it is nine months early!